A Kenyan riot policeman points his rifle towards demonstrators supporting opposition leader Raila Odinga in Kisumu on Wednesday after Odinga claimed ‘massive’ fraud in this week’s elections. Picture: Reuters

KENYA’S election commission dismissed claims yesterday by opposition leader Raila Odinga that its systems and website had been hacked to produce a “fictitious” lead for Odinga’s long-time rival, President Uhuru Kenyatta.

And an AU election observer mission yesterday said it was “pleased” with the elections, which it described as “peaceful” and meeting the required standards.

Nearly 20 million Kenyans registered to vote in the hotly contested presidential and parliamentary elections.

Former president Thabo Mbeki, who is leading the AU observer mission, said the counting of votes was being carried out in a transparent manner in the presence of all party representatives.

But AU observers had noted concerns raised by Odinga, who claimed that Kenya’s electoral commission’s systems had been “hacked” by Kenyatta’s Jubilee party, and that the results so far were a “fraud”.

Kenyatta - the son of Kenya’s founding president Jomo Kenyatta - was leading by about two million votes, with counting expected to be concluded late yesterday.

Mbeki also revealed that during voting, Odinga, who leads the National Super Alliance, complained about the movement of security personnel from one polling station to another, alleging they were possibly involved in vote-rigging.

Mbeki said the matter had been looked into by the AU mission, which was one of several electoral observer groups from Africa, the EU and the US.

Angry protests erupted in opposition strongholds in the Kenyan capital Nairobi and the western city of Kisumu as the counting of votes from Tuesday’s election continued, but the election commission said the election had been free and fair.

Police shot dead at least three people and protesters killed a fourth, witnesses said. Although the violence remained largely contained, Kenyans were nervously hoping to avoid a repetition of the ethnic killings that followed a disputed 2007 presidential poll, when about 1200 people died.

Yesterday, provisional results from the election commission website put Kenyatta in front with 54.3% of votes counted to 44.8% for Odinga - a margin of 1.4 million ballots with 97% of polling stations reported.

Earlier, Odinga published his own party’s assessment of the count on Twitter, saying he had 8.1million votes against 7.2million for Kenyatta. He provided no supporting documentation.

“Our election management system is secure. There was no external interference to the system at any point before, during or after voting,” election commission head Ezra Chiloba told a news conference.

“The (hacking) claims being made could not be substantiated from our end,” he said following an investigation.

Odinga had said hackers could have used the identity of a top election official, who was tortured and murdered days before the vote. His statements raised concerns of unrest over the results in Kenya, which has East Africa’s biggest economy and is a regional hub.

Odinga posted 50 pages of computer logs online to support his hacking claims, but they were “inconclusive”, according to Matt Bernhard, who studies computer security in election systems at the University of Michigan.

Some time stamps appeared out of order and it was hard to evaluate the veracity of screenshots without access to a server, he said.

Odinga urged his supporters to remain calm, but added: “I don’t control the people.” His deputy, Kalonzo Musyoka, said the opposition might call for unspecified “action” later.

In Nairobi police killed one demonstrator, and in Kisumu, an opposition stronghold, they fired teargas to scatter a group of 100 protesters. Unarmed men marched through the streets waving sticks and chanting “No Raila, no peace”.

In coastal Tana River county, a gang wielding machetes attacked a tallying centre, killing one man and injuring another, said a community elder who witnessed the attack. Police shot dead two attackers.

Foreign observer missions declined to comment on the hacking allegations, but urged all parties to stay calm.